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Weevil warrior

Even away from his Abilene office, Lindy Patton finds if difficult not to have weevils on his mind.

As Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation president and CEO, Patton’s clear mission is to remove the boll weevil from Texas — permanently. Doing so also would mean a national victory of eradicating the boll weevil from the U.S. Cotton Belt, sending it back to where it entered this country from Mexico in 1892.

It’s been a long and extremely difficult road since the Boll Weevil Eradication Program began in Virginia with the pilot program in 1978, working its way west during the 33 years since.

Key Points

Boll weevil war leader’s mission is to remove pest from Texas.

Lindy Patton’s roots with cotton run deep in Texas and Oklahoma.

Mexico is a hurdle in U.S. sending pest back to where it came from.

The final hurdle eventually will be cleaning up East and South Texas, and keeping the weevil on the south side of the Rio Grande after nearly 120 years of it wreaking havoc on U.S. cotton.

“With Mexico, it’s hard to know what’s over there,” Patton says.

With the border instability, the valley is tough to deal with these days, he assures.

Patton’s life is deep-rooted in the cotton industry. He grew up just north of Wichita Falls, outside Burkburnett along the Red River, but his family had farming interests just across the Oklahoma border in Cotton, Tillman and Comanche counties for generations, and Patton has farms in Oklahoma today.

Although his family farmed in Oklahoma when it was still Native American territory, it was the boll weevil’s annihilation of East Texas cotton fields that moved the clan west, like so many other families more than a century ago.

Patton graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in agricultural economics. He soon became executive director of the Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association. After leading the 31-county RPCGA, Patton eventually went to work for former U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm, and later, took on the enormous challenge of TBWEF chief executive.

It’s professional, but also personal to Patton. He would like to stomp on the last Texas weevil.

But a severe budget cut, the worst drought year in recorded Texas weather history and the Mexican border — or the “other side of the fence” as Patton calls it — have made 2011 a frustrating year.

“But we can’t give up now,” Patton assures. “We’ve got to finish the job.”


BORDER IS TOUGH: The Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Program covers 20 zones in Texas and New Mexico, but the Lower Rio Grande Valley in South Texas remains a major challenge for the weevil war, says Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Lindy Patton.

This article published in the September, 2011 edition of THE FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.